Panchakarma – Balance from the Inside Out
Ayurveda is India’s 5,000-year-old system of health and longevity. It is the Science of Life. Panchakarma is the traditional Ayurvedic cleansing, rejuvenating and balancing program for your body, mind and spirit. Panchakarma means “five actions.” According to the Vedic texts, the formula for optimal wellbeing is good digestion, efficient elimination, harmony between your mind, senses and consciousness, and a natural balance of the elemental energies of your being. These elemental energies are called doshas.
Ayurveda explains that your natural state of balance and well-being can be challenged by rhythms that occur in nature such as seasonal changes. Progressive changes related to your time of life also contribute to imbalance. Imbalance is provoked by common and uncommon stressors, unexpressed emotions, emotional loss, excessive living, incorrect diet, etc. Imbalance weakens your agni, your digestive fire, and weakened agni leads to the accumulation of ama or toxins. After a time, unchecked stressors will dominate one’s life and ama may become deeply embedded in body tissues clogging your srotas. Srotas are your body’s channels of circulation and evacuation. Excess ama will aggravate your body tissues or dhatus. This is how illness overcomes a body: by eventually impeding the flow of prana, the vital life energy.
Ayurveda’s practice of Panchakarma systematically facilitates the removal of ama from your dhatus and redirects ama to the appropriate organs for elimination. Panchakarma utilizes Ayurvedic principals and methods to reduce doshic excess by correcting ingrained physical, mental and emotional imbalances. The rejuvenating actions of Panchakarma nourish your dhatus and pacify the doshas, restoring your natural state of wellbeing. Classical Panchakarma is comprised of cleansing, elimination and reducing methods and rejuvenating, pacifying and strengthening methods. The cleansing methods are called shodhanas and the rejuvenating phase of Panchakarma is called rasayana.
The process of Panchakarma helps to unveil your natural wisdom, a universal understanding that reaches beyond the mind, while providing a practical understanding of positive options and healthful behavior that can be applied in your daily life.
Ancient and modern Panchakarma
We understand, through ancient Vedic texts, that the holy sages of India perceived methods for purification and rejuvenation to remove the origins of suffering. The practice of Panchakarma was developed originally for royalty to promote their optimal health and long life. Based on this tradition, Ayurveda recommends that one receives Panchakarma during the transition between seasons, so that one can be cleansed and balanced of the prior season’s excesses before the start of the next season. Everyone, especially those who suffer from seasonal allergies, could certainly benefit from this established timetable, however, receiving Panchakarma annually or even every couple of years is a very positive step to ensure balance throughout one’s lifetime. No longer reserved for royalty, Panchakarma is now offered with practical consideration for modern schedules and daily demands. Panchakarma programs are typically designed for 21 days, 14 days, or 7 days. The Panchakarma programs with durations of less than 21 days give instructions for the process to begin at home under the supervision of an Ayurvedic Practitioner.
The ancient principles and methods of Panchakarma are even more relevant today as contemporary society has introduced a host of new stressors that challenge the delicate balance of the doshas or elemental energies. Panchakarma is the ultimate way of supporting well-being and longevity, by honoring the essential nature of doshic balance.
Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.
Denise O’Dunn, president and founder of Balance & Bliss Inc., is a certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Licensed Massage Therapist (ma58502) and yoga teacher. She received her degree in Ayurveda from the Florida Vedic College and is a professional member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.balanceandbliss.com